Injection molder Moll Industries Inc. has sold its French operations to Italian firm Ergom SpA, as part of its plan to restructure and emerge from bankruptcy with its debt reduced to a level the company said it can ``fully support.''
The sale ends the Davie, Fla.-based firm's presence in Europe.
Moll Chief Financial Officer William Teeple said Feb. 7 that Ergom plans to run the French operations, which employ about 460 and include 75 injection presses in six molding and toolmaking plants. Teeple said the sale was completed recently, and he did not know the sale price. All proceeds will go to creditors, he said.
Moll was unable to find a buyer for its sole remaining molding plant in the United Kingdom. Instead, Moll sold the assets of the Morecambe, England, plant to a local entrepreneur, Harry Brakewell, Teeple said.
The disclosure comes several weeks after Moll filed its formal restructuring plan Jan. 17 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Antonio.
Teeple said Moll will emerge from the bankruptcy much smaller, with about $120 million in U.S. sales and about $10 million in Brazil. In Plastics News' 2002 ranking of injection molders, Moll had North American sales of $200 million and worldwide sales of $363 million.
The company said its sales in the fourth quarter were up 17 percent from 2001, and its 2002 results exceeded expectations. The heavily leveraged company was forced into bankruptcy by its largest lender in September, but Teeple said the company considers it important that it now has the support of its lenders for the restructuring.
The company said its debt level will be reduced about 50 percent when it emerges from bankruptcy in the spring.
``Our business is strong, our order pattern is solid and our domestic operations continue to be profitable,'' Teeple said.
The company said that as a result of closing some factories and losing some customers, appliance manufacturer Whirlpool Corp. now will account for about half of its business. Moll will operate six molding plants in the United States and one in Brazil, and will focus its business on the Western Hemisphere.
Moll also disclosed in the filing that it does not anticipate that its unsecured creditors in the United States will receive any money.
As part of the bankruptcy, Moll's largest lender, Highland Capital Management LP, is expected to replace former Moll Chairman George Votis as the company's majority owner. Highland will own about 90 percent of the company, with Moll management holding the rest.